Federal officials say progress is being made in eradicating a microscopic pest that has been threatening Idaho’s $900 million potato industry for the last decade.
The USDA says viable potato cyst nematodes can no longer be detected in three additional fields. The agency in a report released Friday says that 20 of the 27 infected fields have now reached that step in a lengthy process to return the fields to production. About 9,300 acres are still being regulated due to the pest in southeastern Idaho.
Canada, Mexico and Korea initially banned Idaho potatoes when the pest was discovered in 2006, and Japan banned all U.S. potatoes. Japan still bans Idaho potatoes.
Nematodes can reduce crop production by 80 percent. Idaho produces about 30 percent of the nation’s potato crop.
Source: Local News 8